Treasury Board of Canada Secretariat
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The Clean Air Agenda:

Plans, Spending and Results


Lead department: Environment Canada
Lead department program activity: PA3.2 and PA2.1
Start date: Announced in Budget 2011
End date: March 31, 2016
Total federal funding allocation (start to end date): $ 1,519.62 million*

*This figure is incomplete due to Cabinet confidence. The total allocation includes $17.35 million from previous CARA funding for 2011-2012.

1. Overview of Clean Air Agenda

The 2011 Budget announced the renewal of the Clean Air Agenda (CAA) with an investment of $870 million over two years.1 This funding will build on the considerable momentum gained from the investments in the CAA over the period of 2007-2011 which formed part of the Government’s broader efforts to address the challenges of climate change and air pollution, with a view to ensuring a clean and healthy environment for all Canadians.

The Government of Canada continues to advance the CAA, addressing climate change and air pollutants at the domestic, continental and international level. Canada has made significant progress towards meeting its Copenhagen commitment to reduce national greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions by 17% below 2005 levels by 2020, which translates into 607 megatonnes. To meet its target the Government is pursuing a sector-by-sector regulatory approach, aligned with the United States, where appropriate. This approach includes regulations to address GHG emissions from passenger cars and light-duty trucks and coal-fired electricity generation facilities. Additionally, the Government of Canada is supporting complementary initiatives for adapting to the impacts of climate change. Internationally, as part of it's recent participation at the 17th Conference of the Parties climate change conference in Durban, Canada agreed to a process to negotiate a new climate change agreement that would include binding commitments for all major emitters.

To support Government of Canada efforts to reduce air pollutant emissions, work is being undertaken with provinces, industry and non-governmental organizations to finalize and implement a new national air quality management system that will include new ambient air quality standards for key pollutants, new industrial emissions standards and active management of local air quality by provinces.

As the CAA moves forward, eleven federal departments and agencies provide programming organized within five themes:

  • clean air regulatory agenda (CARA);
  • clean energy;
  • clean transportation;
  • international actions; and,
  • adaptation.

Through CARA, the Government of Canada continues to support the development and implementation of measures to address air quality and climate change. Renewed CARA funding ensures scientific excellence in the development of regulations that strike a balance between improving environmental standards and respecting industry's need for simple, streamlined rules and realistic timelines. This includes support to sustain the scientific research, monitoring, atmospheric modelling, and economic and policy analysis and assessment necessary to develop and assess the impacts of sector-by-sector GHG regulations; finalize a national air quality management system; address transboundary air pollution through the Canada-U.S. Air Quality Agreement (AQA); improve indoor air quality and promote behavioural change among Canadians by extending the Air Quality Health Index.

Clean Energy programming builds on our previous investments by further improving the energy sector’s environmental performance in Canada. Programming supports broad collaboration among industry, universities, governments, and Aboriginal and northern communities, increases stakeholder awareness and clean energy scientific and technical knowledge, and encourages adoption of energy efficient and alternative energy technologies. Investments in cleaner sources of energy will reduce greenhouse gas emissions and help balance the need for energy with the need to protect the environment and grow the economy.

Similarly, Clean Transportation programming is focused on encouraging technology updates and making use of regulations and targeted industry incentives to accelerate the development and adoption of next generation clean technologies. Complementing the advancement of innovations, a suite of regulatory initiatives for the aviation, marine, and rail sectors aim to increase efficiencies in the Canadian transportation system, reduce its environmental footprint and support economic growth.

The International Actions programming supports the Government’s strategic response to climate change. Because climate change and air pollution are cross-boundary issues, CAA funding ensures critical work is undertaken through partnerships and negotiations with a wide range of stakeholders - national and international, private and public sector, profit and not-for-profit. Renewed funding also supports commitments to promote Canada-U.S. collaboration on clean energy technologies under the Clean Energy Dialogue (CED).

The funding for Adaptation builds on and extends the investments made over the past four years and will help provinces, territories, municipalities, First Nations and Inuit, and industry develop proactive actions to adapt to the impacts that climate change has and will have on Canada’s economy, health and security, particularly in the North.

2. Shared Outcomes

The renewed CAA continues the collaborative efforts within the federal government and with other jurisdictions to realize health, economic and environmental benefits for Canadians. These efforts will work toward:

  • Reducing the risk to the health of Canadians and the environment from exposure to air pollution;
  • Providing economic benefits and maintaining competitiveness from innovations related to reducing air pollution and addressing climate change; and,
  • Reducing the risk to communities, infrastructure and to the health and safety of Canadians resulting from climate change.


3. Governance Structure

In its first four years, the CAA piloted an innovative approach to supporting greater accountability and transparency through a “Horizontal Management Accountability and Reporting Framework” (HMARF). Building on this experience, the HMARF was renewed with a view to also ensuring greater coherency in climate change and clean air reporting through integration with the Federal Sustainable Development Strategy and its reporting on the progress the federal government is making towards environmental sustainability.

As outlined in the governance structure (Charter), Environment Canada is continuing its leadership role of the CAA-HMARF. The CAA is governed through a collective of Deputy Ministers and Assistant Deputy Ministers, and through the Federal Sustainable Development interdepartmental committees. Director Generals (DG) continue to provide leadership for each of the five themes and its integration into the Federal Sustainable Development Strategy through the interdepartmental DG’s committee.

4. Highlights for 2012-2013

With respect to CARA, highlights for 2012-2013 include: the implementation of GHG regulations for new light-duty vehicles (2011-2016 model years), and the finalization of regulations for later model years (2017 and beyond), aligned with U.S. standards; the finalization of GHG regulations for new heavy-duty vehicles also aligned with those of the U.S., as well as regulations for coal-fired electricity generation, and the continued development of regulations for other emissions-intensive sectors including natural-gas fired electricity and the oil and gas sector.

With respect to air quality, highlights for 2012-2013 include: the finalization and approval of the Air Quality Management System in order to start moving to the implementation stage. This includes setting national ambient air quality standards under the Canadian Environmental Protection Act, 1999 (CEPA 1999) and initiate regulatory development for base-level industrial emission requirements for key sources. Other highlights include the ongoing strengthening of commitments to reduce transboundary air pollution under the AQA, and continued development of control measures for consumer and commercial products. In addition, funding for 2012-2013 will also support the scientific and economic work necessary to advance these measures to address GHGs and air pollution, as well as the continued development and annual reporting of comprehensive inventories of air pollutants and GHGs, through the National Pollutant Release Inventory and National GHG inventory, which is required as part of Canada’s United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) obligations.

Internationally, the federal government will build on areas of consensus through engagement under the UNFCCC and the CED, as well as participate in the G8 and 2012 Major Economies Forum and Clean Energy Ministerial meetings. The Government will also continue to work with the U.S. towards the negotiation of a Particulate Matter Annex to the Canada-U.S. AQA, and through the U.S.-Canada Regulatory Cooperation Council on common objectives related to addressing air emissions. The Government will also continue to advance efforts to address short-lived climate forcers (SLCFs) with the U.S. and other key partners through continued work under the Arctic Council, the UN Convention on Long-Range Transboundary Air Pollution, the Global Methane Initiative, and the new global initiative to reduce SLCFs, launched in February 2012.

The suite of Clean Energy programming will improve the energy sector’s environmental performance by advancing clean electricity and cleaner energy production, increasing the use of alternative fuels, and improving end-use energy efficiencies. Over 2012-2013, energy efficiency training, adoption of the 2011 National Energy Code for Buildings, development and updating of natural gas codes and standards and initial market assessments of oil sands and shale gas will take place. Funding for ecoENERGY Innovation Initiative projects will be approved for government, academic and private sector research and development projects and for demonstration projects with external public and private stakeholders. Clean Energy activities in 2012-2013 will also include the provision of timely advice and information to senior management on clean energy and environmental issues.

Towards Clean Transportation, new standards for nitrogen oxide will be introduced for the aviation sector in Canada through regulatory action (to come into force by the end of 2013), with a new domestic voluntary agreement with the Canadian aviation industry to reduce GHGs. For the marine sector, amendments to the new Vessel Pollution and Dangerous Chemicals Regulations to limit air pollutants and GHG emissions are expected to come into force. In the rail sector, new air pollutant emission regulations for locomotives and a new domestic voluntary agreement with the Canadian rail industry to limit GHG emissions will be implemented.

The Adaptation programming will fund projects to assist Aboriginal and Northern communities in understanding and adapting to a changing climate, map ecosystems and conduct scenario modelling for some national parks (Wapusk, Ivvavik and Torngat Mountains National Parks), establish codes and standards to protect infrastructure, and help manage mine waste in the North. It will also develop enhanced global and regional climate models and scenarios, expand heat alert and response systems in at-risk communities across Canada, develop information tools and guidelines for preventative public health systems, develop an adaptation toolkit for forest sector decision-makers, and establish an Adaptation Platform to bring together knowledge, capacity and financial resources to efficiently and effectively facilitate adaptation action.

1 This figure includes $400 million for the ecoENERGY Retrofit Home program in 2011-2012.

5. Federal Partners

The federal partners for the CAA are: Aboriginal Affairs and Northern Development Canada, Environment Canada, Fisheries and Oceans Canada, Foreign Affairs and International Trade, Health Canada, National Research Council Canada, Natural Resources Canada, Parks Canada, Public Health Agency of Canada, Standard Councils Canada (Industry Canada), and Transport Canada.\

6. Contact name for the CAA

Paula Brand, Acting Director General,
Sustainable Development Strategy Division, Environment Canada,
10 Wellington St, Gatineau, Quebec, K1A 0H3
Tel: (819) 997-3729, Email: